Tuesday, October 31, 2023


Carol Collette, Clear Winter Night

 It is 29 degrees here this morning. ABOUT TIME.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Just Give Him a Fish


(Image: Text saying "Give a man a fish. Just give him the fish. You have extra fish, just hand it over. He doesn't have time to go to your shitty fucking fishing school.)

In other news, winter has arrived. It's 44 degrees here now, and the weather guy says tonight it's gonna freeze.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

What I'm Reading Now

Nicola Griffith, Menewood

Griffith is a SF/F writer, but this and Hild, which is the first in what Griffith called the Hild sequence, are historical novels, set in seventh century Britain, about the woman who would become St. Hilda. These are dense, fascinating novels, best read slowly. I loved Hild to bits and am already looking forward to the next volume. Menewood is about Hild when she is in her early twenties, dealing with a war raging over England at the time while also trying to protect those under her care.

It's been more than seven years since the first novel, but it was worth the wait. Lots of detail about daily life in the seventh century, about organizing and supplying military forces, about women and their lives, about how power works and can work. I'm hoping we won't have to wait another seven years for the next installment.

Sarah Myer, Monstrous

This is a graphic novel about a child adopted from Korea as an infant, and raised in an ultra-white conservative community in the Midwest. She has an older sister, also adopted from Korea, who has an easier time growing up in such a community; Sarah, who is neurodivergent and non-binary, is bullied and tormented by her classmates, and despite the support of her parents ends up feeling like a monster. Lovely art here, and a compelling story. 

Madeline L'Engle, Dragons in the Water

This was released in a Library of America edition, and I had not read it since I was about ten, so I decided to have another look. L'engle, as you'll know, wrote A Wrinkle in Time and Meet the Austins, books I loved as a kid, and read over and over. I remembered not liking this one much, and oof, was I correct. Among other flaws, it's extremely boring. I only got through the first half this time, so maybe it picks up in the second half; but in the first half, nothing much happens, despite the lovely set up -- Dr. O'Keefe* and two of his seven kids take a cargo boat to South America with some other people, including Simon Renier, who is the sole surviving heir of a family from South Carolina, one which lost everything thanks to those evil, evil Yankees and the Civil War. Down in Venezuela, some noble savages who have mystical powers are waiting for a "white savior," and that is the literal term L'Engle uses, to come save their society. Simon is, I am pretty sure, that white savior.

You don't have to worry about the fact that his ancestor (the one who impregnated one of the noble savages and then abandoned her to return to his plantation in the south) was a slave-holder, since -- like every fictional southern hero -- he freed his slaves. Then they all lived together in one big happy family on the plantation until the evil Yankees came and destroyed the plantation, and then after "the War" sowed salt into the soil, you know, how the Yankees did, during Reconstruction. That's why Simon is so poor. His evil uncle comes from the branch of the family that collaborated with the Yankees during reconstruction. That's why he's evil.

If you know anything about actual Reconstruction, and what white people in the South did during those years and into the 20th century, this heap of lies is even more offensive. I know L'Engle had relatives in the South, and spent some of her adolescent years in South Caroline, but holy hell.

Anyway, do not recommend. There are three other novels in this LOA edition; I don't know if I can bear to give them a try.

*You'll remember this Calvin O'Keefe, from A Wrinkle in Time, who married Meagan, the math prodigy. Meagan, instead of becoming a mathematician, began having babies. She had seven. Calvin became the famous scientist. Meagan cooks meals and mends clothing.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Asimov Review

 My review, On Books, is live at Asimov's right now. 

Among other books, I reviews Ursula Vernon's A House with Good Bones and a compilation of Lois McMaster Bujold's Penric novellas. Also The Light Pirate, a book about near-future Florida by Lily Brooks Dalton which I liked a lot:

We follow Wanda as the hurricane season lengthens and the storms grow ever more powerful; as some people leave but others stay; as the world heats up until people must become nocturnal to survive; as Florida sinks into the ocean and as various local and state governments fail, until finally the federal government announces the “closure” of Florida. 

Friday, October 27, 2023

Weather Report

It is hot and sticky here, on the 27 of October. Highs in the 80s today.

More rain is forecast for tonight, with a promised cold front on the heels of the storm. Maybe we'll get fall just in time for November. That would be pleasant.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Primary Care

I had a follow-up with my PCP yesterday, after doing yearly lab work. I am 100% healthy, you will be happy to know. Okay, 98% healthy. My kidney numbers run a little high since 2018, when I nearly died from whatever that virus was; and my "bad' cholesterol is a tiny bit high. Everything else looks good, though. 

My PCP is moving out of Fort Smith to a nearby small town, because Fort Smith, despite the fact that 90% of our industry is health care, cannot provide the support she needs to be a PCP. For example, I've been trying to get a basic preventive medical test done for just about three years now, and have not been able to get it done. I did get it scheduled, once, but then I got COVID and had to cancel. Now I can't get the people at the hospital to return my phone calls.

And back when I had kidney stones, it took months for them to schedule me with the lithotripsy machine, because there was only one in the entire state.

Good thing we don't have any of that evil socialized medicine here, huh?

Une deluge

It's hammering down rain here, and so dark outside I had trouble driving to work, even with my headlights on.

The good news is on the other side of this storm, we'll have cold weather again. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Thinking about Propaganda

I was thinking recently about a post Rod Dreher wrote once, about how he disliked Ta-Nehisi Coates's writing because Coates made "everything about race." Why is he so obsessed with being black, Rod demanded. Can't he ever write about anything else?

This was hilarious to me, since at the time Rod was obsessed with Christianity, in a particularly tedious way; and formerly he had been obsessed with black people being inferior due to their inferior culture; and later, of course, he would become obsessed with trans people, to the point that he utterly could not write about anything else.

Many "conservative" writers now have a similar obsession -- they make everything, even the war between Palestine and Israel, about trans people. (Which is extremely bizarre, frankly.) But that's not my point.

Rod was angry about Coates, he claimed, because he said that Coates, and many other progressive writers, wanted to indoctrinate children, students, and the country, into believing that systemic racism was a problem in the US. On the other hand, he was perfectly fine with arguing that children, students, and the country should be indoctrinated into accepting the truth of his obsession -- Christianity.

It's not that Conservatives, in other words, are opposed to indoctrinating people, including children. It's that they want to choose the indoctrination subject. 

Not that LGBTQ people are people. 

Yes that any small child who isn't Christian is going to burn in hell for all eternity. 

Not that women should be equal citizens, that therapy is a good plan for some people, that immigrants should have rights, that systemic racism is a thing.

Yes that patriarchy is God's plan and God wants you to beat children and birth control is abortion.

Not that workers should unionize and have rights.

Yes that Capitalism is God's plan and America is God's Chosen Country.

And so on.

Monday, October 23, 2023

What are YOU reading now?

This is shamelessly stolen off Tumblr -- tell me what you're reading right now!

I'm reading (re-reading) Le Guin's Dispossessed. I just finished reading T. J. Klune's In the Lives of Puppets, but that was for a review.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Bits of News

The kids, of course, drove down here (a whole sixty miles!) and returned home again with no trouble whatsoever. Eventually I will learn not to spin myself up about these things. One day.

It was 88 degrees here yesterday and today the high will be 84. On the 22nd of October. But then it will rain and we will be back, at least briefly, to having a fall.

I am finishing a review for Interzone today, and then tomorrow I will read through my draft of the next Velocity novel, which I finished about 10 days ago. Then, if all is well, I will send that off to my editor.

Dr. Skull's back has been much worse lately. I think because of his bout with COVID -- not that COVID made it worse, but because he could not exercise while he was ill, and lost much of the ground he had gained by swimming four time a week. I'm trying to coax him into starting exercising again, but he says his back hurts too much.

My insomnia treatment -- listening to audio books until I fall asleep -- continues to work. This may be an actual cure. Fingers crossed.

Our Trump Mini-Me, Sarah Huckster Sanders, has banned a group of words from being used in state documents, all words that might imply trans people exist, such as  "birth giver." One can't say birth giver. Once must say "mom." Of course, no one in Arkansas was saying things like "chest-feeding," (another banned word), but Huckabee Sanders isn't actually trying to accomplish anything. She's just signaling to her base that it's okay to hate trans people. If this was 1990, she'd be banning gay marriage. And if was 1950, she'd be closing our public swimming pools rather than allowing black kids to go swimming.

But banning words? That's actually Orwellian, as opposed to all the shit that the Right (who has never read 1984, clearly) loves to call Orwellian.

ETA: I've given up reading the website formerly known as Twitter, because it's just too ugly these days, but this one did make me laugh:

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Vaccines for Me!

My university is doing a vaccine clinic today, so I'm getting three different vaccines: the new COVID, a flu vaccine, and a shingles vaccine. Clearly this is an attempt by the Deep State to fill me with microchips that will control my mind. Or something. I forget what the latest conspiracy theory from the Right is.

I'm just grateful I can get these without making an appointment with my primary care physician and handing over a $40 co-pay. (The clinic is doing them free of charge for faculty members.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

What the Fox Says

We have two foxes in the neighborhood now, including one that lives in the hedgerow behind my house, and frequents the little stream that runs beside the house.

This means we often hear the foxes screaming at each other. If you have never heard a fox scream, it is the most unearthly thing you can imagine. Honestly, the first time I heard it, I would have believed it was a demon except I don't believe in demons.

Anyway, a few nights ago, the younger fox was screaming into the night, which sent my little dog right out of his mind with fury. I captured it for you:

You can hear the little dog yelling his head off in the background.

This is one from YouTube with better sound quality:

I just played it to be sure the sound came across, and now the little dog is barking wildly. He hates that fox!

Monday, October 16, 2023

Fall Break

When I was a kid in New Orleans we did not have Fall Break. Instead, we got two days off for Mardi Gras. As much as I enjoyed the all-day parades on Fat Tuesday, I like fall break much better. Better weather, for one thing -- it's sunny and chilly here this week, and I can leave the windows open almost all the time. (It's started to get too cold to have them open in the morning.)

We're not doing anything for break. I'm grading papers and reading for the book reviews I have due this fall; and Dr. Skull is revising his novel. Also, the kids are going to drive down next Saturday. Yes, drive all the way from Fayetteville to the Fort, all by themselves. 

I am freaking out, but pretending to be just fine. I remember when my little brother left for college at age 18, he drove himself all the way from New Orleans to Danville, Kentucky, when he had had his license for barely a week. I don't know how my mother survived it.

View from the back porch

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Fall Arrives!

Last night was the first night we could sleep without air conditioning. It is the official start of fall!

According to the weather page, it will remain cool, dipping into chilly, for the next ten days. I can leave the AC off and the windows open. My favorite sort of weather.

Also my internet has healed itself. I have no idea why, but now it's working again.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

A Calamity

The internet is out at our house and AT&T can't send anyone to fix it until tomorrow.

I've had to come up to school to get any work done.

What century are we even living in?

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Fun Fact!

A hot dog contains five grams of protein and 12 grams of fat.

Two Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (a serving, according to the candy company) have six grams of protein and 10 grams of fat.

Clearly the best lunch choice is a packet of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

Though they're not as good with mustard on them.

Monday, October 09, 2023

Oh Boy! Butler!

Look what my public library bought for me:

Our library may be ditching books that they think no one reads anymore, and they may buy way too many works of far-right propaganda (in my opinion), but they also have this feature where you can request a book, and they buy it, and then automatically put it on hold for you.

It's the best!

Public libraries are, as you probably already know, under attack by the far-right. Our library isn't seeing too many attempts to ban books that someone thinks not just their kid but no kid should read (never far-right hate screeds, about how democrats hate America; always books in which LGBTQ people exist) but they have seen massive cuts in funding, and every time they manage to get an increase in funding on the ballot, the local conservatives vote it down. "Who even uses libraries?" they demand. 

I mean, poors and the educated, which is why the right hates libraries, I guess.

Sunday, October 08, 2023

Fall, Fall, Fall!

 Lovely weather here -- a high in the low 70s today, and it's 64 right now. I've left the door onto the little screened porch open for the cats, and they are so happy. 

Meanwhile our internet connection keeps dropping out. What do we do when we can't connect to the internet? Everything I do, from grading papers to reading stories submitted for fiction workshop to checking the weather is done online. Am I supposed to read a book or something?

Maybe I'll go for a walk, in this wonderful weather.

Saturday, October 07, 2023


It is cold here this morning. Fifty-seven degrees when I woke up.

I have the windows and doors open. The cats are in paradise. 

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

An Alert!! OH NO

So apropos of yesterday's post, today I'm seeing conservative blogs with comments about the emergency alert test scheduled for today. Apparently you need to take your battery out of your phone because the alert will actually spew nanos or mRNA or radiation or 5Gs which will enter your bloodstream and....

I'm hoping this is a joke they're all sharing with one another. They can't be serious?

Tuesday, October 03, 2023


Apparently it's a truism in far-right conservatives circles that "Democrats" want to make everyone eat crickets instead of steak?

I'm confused by how this bizarre belief got started. Did Fox News do a story about it, or what?

It looks like there were a couple of studies done in 2021 which showed that insects have a higher nutrient value than does red meat, and that eating them would be better for the environment than raising cows. How it went from that to "Biden wants to make us eat crickets," I do not know. But I've seen like ten people reference it over the past few months.

Now if they could only combine Biden forcing conservatives to eat bugs with bugs spreading Covid and the vaccine against Covid turning everyone into communists (yes, I saw that one today), we'll have a trifecta!

ETA: Oh, look. It was Prager U and Tucker Carlson. I should have known.

Monday, October 02, 2023

What I'm Reading Now

Pretty much just Barbara Hambly, though I am also listening to audio books while I go to sleep and while I'm at the gym.

Barbara Hambly, The Emancipator's Wife

This is an historical novel about Mary Todd Lincoln, and therefore a bit about Lincoln himself, and the events leading up to the Civil War, as well as some about the war itself.  Most of what was in the novel I did not know, so it was like reading an actual novel for me, rather than an historical novel. I knew the stuff everyone knows about Lincoln, but not that Mary Todd Lincoln saw three of her four children die, all of diseases we can quite easily cure today, and that it left her a little insane with grief. Though this novel makes the case that she was bipolar even before those events.

Well-written, this one sucked me in. I read almost nothing else for three days -- it's about five hundred pages long, but also I read it slowly, fascinated by the world Hambly gives us. Impressive novel.

Barbara Hambly, Homeland. 

An epistolary novel of the American Civil War, letters (some sent, most not) between a woman in Kentucky and one in Maine, who were friends before the war and remained friends throughout. This is as good the Lincoln novel, but also very grim in spots. The picture Hambly gives here of what life is like for civilians during the war is probably the best I have ever seen. Why isn't this woman better known as a writer? An upsetting but stellar book.

Barbara Hambly,  A Free Man of Color and Fever Season

These are mysteries in Hambly's Benjamin Javier series, about a free black man who is a musician and a surgeon in New Orleans in the early 19th century.  These are not as good as The Emancipator's Wife or Homeland, but I enjoyed them. Like the novel about Lincoln, they're absorbing and a bit grim. There are like a dozen of these, so that's my reading sorted for awhile.

I understand Hambly has written some science fiction, but my library mostly has only her historical and mystery novels. There's one Star Trek tie-in, and one fantasy novel, which I have put on hold. The library also has e-books, which I don't usually check out because the system is so clunky, but I might have a look.

I have started a couple other novels, including one that showed real promise, The Centre, by Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi, about a mysterious language school, where people can become mother-tongue fluent in a language in ten days. The first third of this very slim book was excellent, and then the next third was so odd and boring I finally just quit reading. I don't know what went wrong. It's almost like Siddiqi was trying to convince us that her main character was unreliable, or shallow, and we shouldn't like her as much as we had so far. Which, okay, but what did that have to do with the mystical magical language school, which is what the book said it was going to be about? 

I don't know. I may give it another shot one of these days. Maybe the last third redeemed it.